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Study Confirms That Over 75% Of Organizations Are Vulnerable To Hackers

Weak Security Leads to Hacks and Data BreachHow does your business handle threats to its data security? You might think you’re safe, but according to the Ponemon Institute, nearly four out of every five organizations aren’t prepared to fend off threats to their security. This is a major problem, so it should make you question whether you’re prepared to handle the various security risks that could potentially plague your business.

Some organizations have cyber threat intelligence for specific reasons, or one that’s exclusive to only one part of a company’s network. More than one-third of organizations have no way of gathering intelligence, while close to one-fifth claim they have a process for gathering information on network threats. Either way, the results are clear; security is not the priority that it needs to be for the respondent’s businesses.

Due to this less-than-ideal focus on cyber security, the Ponemon institute claims that businesses experience an average of at least one cyber attack every month. These breaches result in costs totaling over $3.5 million annually. You need to assess your organization’s current state of security and consider whether you can afford to suffer from a data breach.

Hint: You can’t.

One of the most dangerous ways that hackers try to harm organizations is through the use of phishing scams. These attempts to convince users to part ways with sensitive information by using an elaborate ruse. By the end of a successful phishing scheme, the hacker will have all of the information they need to access a sensitive network, compromise an online account, or steal the user’s identity. If users can’t tell the difference between a hacker and a normal user, there’s an increased risk of communicating with anyone online. More often than not, hackers are allowed to have their way specifically because organizations either don’t take the threat of a hacking attack seriously enough, or they just accidentally let a threat through their defenses.

The easy solution to this problem can be implemented by any business professional. All you have to do is keep two major points in mind: 1) Implement preventative measures, and 2) Educate your employees on security threats.

  • Preventative measures: When we talk about security measures, we mean the basic ones like firewalls and antivirus solutions. These are designed to protect your organization from threats in the first place, so that you don’t have to suffer from an unexpected data breach. In other words, by cutting your organization’s exposure to threats, you enhance your business’s cyber security.
  • Employee education: If your business wants to take the fight to cybersecurity threats, your employees need to know what to avoid and why. Show your employees what phishing scams look like, and what to do about them. By doing so, you’ll be making security a part of your organization’s culture, which is crucial to keeping your data safe.

If your business is concerned about cybersecurity, Excalibur Technology can help. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Get To Know Your Firewall And Better Protect Your Business

Firewall protects your networkFirewalls are one of those things that businesses need, but may not have. They are integral parts of network security for organizations of all shapes and sizes, as well as the average PC user. We’ll discuss what a firewall does for your organization, and why it’s important that you implement one as soon as possible.

What Does a Firewall Do?
The easiest way to explain the concept of a firewall is to say that it checks the data that flows in and out of your network for anything that looks suspicious. It does all of this before any data enters or exits your network. Firewalls must be updated periodically with the latest threat definitions in order to stay effective. After all, the threats posed by hackers and other online entities are always changing, so it makes sense that your firewall can accommodate this change.

A firewall is usually just for the purpose of identifying threats entering the network. However, it is also a great tool for finding threats that are already on your in-house network, validating connection and data packets, searching for legitimate application data, and performing a cavity search on all messages that that are sent to and retrieved by your network.

It’s also crucial to know that not all firewalls have the same amount of strength. The average personal computer may come with a pre-installed firewall, but for business purposes, this type of firewall is not going to be very helpful. The typical SMB should go above and beyond their needs by implementing an enterprise-level firewall, which is commonly seen in solutions like a Unified Threat Management (UTM) tool. A UTM comes with much more than just a firewall, compounding its effectiveness by offering a spam blocker, antivirus, and content filter, making it invaluable for your organization’s network security.

What Doesn’t a Firewall Do?
While a firewall is certainly a good first step toward optimizing network security, you don’t want to place all of your security hopes on it. Instead, you should focus on augmenting network security with other preventative measures. Ideas for how to do this include actively monitoring your organization’s network for threats or suspicious activity, as well as regularly applying critical patches and security updates.

You might be asking yourself, “How can I make sure all of this happens when I’m so busy running my business?” Employees often don’t have the time or expertise to attend to such tedious, time-consuming tasks. Furthermore, you can implement as many security measures as you want, but your employees will still find ways to unknowingly expose your organization to online threats. This is why it’s so important to enforce best practices in the workplace.

If you find yourself strapped for time and need assistance with network security, call Excalibur Technology. We can implement security solutions designed to prevent issues rather than respond to problems. To get started, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Does 10,000 Hours Of Practice Automatically Make Someone An Expert?

Becoming an ExpertYou’re already a business owner, but let’s say that you want to pick up some new skills. You want to be known as an expert in a new field, and you’re pretty dedicated to doing so. Perhaps you’re familiar with the 10,000 hours rule, which attempts to explain how someone becomes a master of a particular craft. Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but this rule might not be as simple as it sounds.

What the 10,000 Hour Rule Is

The 10,000 hour rule claims that in order to learn a craft and develop world-class skill, one has to have at least 10,000 hours of experience working with the skill. The original report, published in 1993, found that the most accomplished students at a music academy in Berlin had put in an average of 10,000 hours of practice by the time they turned 20 years old. It seems simple enough, right? You put in plenty of practice and you can possess a world-class skill.

Why it Might Be Wrong
In his new book, Anders Ericsson (who worked on the original report), along with his co-author Robert Pool, attempt to further understand and isolate the science behind the 10,000 hour rule. They came to a number of conclusions concerning the nature of the initial study:

  • There’s nothing special about 10,000 hours: The number 10,000 was chosen specifically because it was a nice, rounded number. Plus, regardless of how skilled they were, the musicians tested were nowhere near their peak, or “world class,” by the time they reached 20 years old. It’s been proven that pianists tend to reach their peak at around 30 years old, so the 10,000 rule isn’t quite true.
  • 10,000 was only the average: By proxy, if you put in 10,000 hours of effort, you’ll only be meeting the average skill level of those who are working toward the same goal. Thus, you can’t be considered “world class” at all. Other studies have shown that it can take as many as ten years to reach a goal.
  • Practice isn’t enough: It was found that investing time and practice into a task doesn’t necessarily make you better at it; rather, it’s the quality of the practice that yields results. This “deliberate practice” pushes the practitioner beyond their comfort zone and forces them to up their game.

The Lesson: Practice Makes Perfect, Not Necessarily Time
There are a few lessons that can be learned from the 10,000 hour rule, but none of them actually have anything to do with 10,000 hours of practice specifically. They can still, nonetheless, be very helpful when learning a new skill and applying it to your life.

  • Train the right way: You can dramatically improve your own skills if you’re diligent about it, but only if you approach it in a productive way. For example, a writer who’s trying to develop their skills can’t improve if they write while the television is turned on.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Regardless if you spend 500 hours or 10,000 hours honing a craft, you’ll be improving your skills. After all, practice is the only real way to improve, and regardless of how much time you invest into it, you’ll see results.
  • There’re no limitations: Regardless of where you stand professionally, there’s always room for self-improvement. You can always reach for loftier goals, and once you start working on a skill, keep working at it. You’ll likely see your hard work pay off.

We think it’s safe to say that you can’t become an expert in a craft overnight, and that even successful business owners have skills that they can dramatically improve by focusing on the right things.

Apple iCloud Passwords Hacked – Update Yours Today

Infected Cell PhoneA hacker group claims that they have collected over 250 million user accounts and passwords from Apple iCloud.  There is some truth to this as reported by the folks at ZDNet.  For the complete story, please CLICK HERE.

We highly recommend that you update your Apple iCloud password and turn on two factor authentication as an additional security measure.  Since iCloud ties into your iPhone, Mac, iPad and all of their online services, you do not want to have your account compromised.  May users have never changed their password since they setup their account years ago.  Time to do so!

If you need any help with your account management, please call our friendly support staff at 877-NET-KING.

And remember, change all of your passwords on a regular basis, do not use the same password on multiple sites and use complex passwords!

Be More Efficient With These Windows 10 Shortcuts

Windows KeyboardA mouse can be very handy when it comes to navigating around the documents you have to work on, but it can also slow you down. Fortunately, key command shortcuts exist for situations just like these, and as Windows 10 has continued to improve, more shortcuts have been included to accomplish more tasks with improved efficiency.

Quick Access to the Start Menu
Take, for instance, the Start menu. Almost anyone who has sat at a computer knows that by clicking the Windows icon in the bottom left-hand corner, a comprehensive menu of your available content is revealed. However, for those those cases when a mouse is unavailable and a trackpad (if working on a laptop) is inefficient, you can navigate the Start menu exclusively with your keyboard. Press the Windows key to open the menu and navigate up and down the column with the arrow keys. You may also begin a search by just typing, once you have opened the Start menu.

For users seeking a more advanced experience, there’s an additional menu, the Power Users menu, that offers utilities like your device’s Event ViewerDevice Manager, and Command Prompt module.

Greater Accessibility of Your Apps
You can also press the Windows Key in combination with a number key to open the associated apps that appear on your taskbar. If the app is already open, it’s a quick way to minimize and maximize a window. Adding the Control key to the combination will open a new window for an app. For example, if you want a separate Chrome window, and Chrome is the fifth app on your taskbar, you would press Ctrl+Windows+5. Alternatively, to open a new app from your taskbar, you can use Windows+T to highlight your first toolbar app by selecting which app to launch with the arrow keys and Enter.

Utilizing a Virtual Desktop
If you are one to heavily use virtual desktops in your day-to-day, you can quickly create one by pressing Windows key+Shift+D. Once you are finished, Windows key+Ctrl+F4 will close the virtual desktop back down.

With these shortcuts now in your arsenal, you have the tools to help you stay productive–with or without a mouse. For more tips, tricks, and handy information, keep coming back to Excalibur Technology’s blog!

3 Ways VoIP Phone Systems Are Superior To Traditional Landlines

VOIP UserCompared to traditional telephone solutions, software-based phone systems have become a major opportunity for businesses to cut costs and improve efficiency. Even if traditional phone systems have their uses, VoIP still wins out by eliminating unnecessary costs and simplifying your business’s physical infrastructure. You might find that VoIP has a place in your office, too.

VoIP takes advantage of your business’s Internet connection to transfer your voice to the desired recipient, usually through a software client that’s installed on a workstation, laptop, or smartphone. The main draw for VoIP is that it works anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. Organizations have widely accepted VoIP as a viable alternative to the traditional telephony system for a number of reasons. We’ll go over the three most beneficial reasons to use VoIP as your trusted communications solution.

VoIP is Versatile
One of the big pain points that businesses have with their office phone system is that they can’t easily take it on the road with them when they leave the office. VoIP makes this easy by installing a softphone application on any applicable device, like a smartphone or a laptop. Just hook up a headset or microphone and you’re all set–it’ll be just like using your office phone.

VoIP is Flexible
Onboarding new employees is another major problem for growing businesses. A larger workforce means adding new telephones and new cables to your communications infrastructure. In a worst-case scenario, you may need to remodel your office to accommodate for the changes in the size of your workforce or communications infrastructure. VoIP eliminates this need. All you have to do is add a new user, including their extension, and configure the phone system. Although, depending on the size of your workforce, you may need to keep a close eye on your bandwidth, as it relies on your Internet connection to work properly.

VoIP is Cost-Effective
If you compare the costs of VoIP to those of a traditional phone system, you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. A great way to describe the cost savings is by comparing VoIP to that of cable cutters who no longer want cable television. Those who pay for cable television get access to countless channels that they can’t possibly watch all of. Thanks to monthly services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, viewers pay a fraction of the price they would normally pay for entertainment, leading them to cancel their television plans in favor of more affordable monthly payments. Similarly, telephone providers often bundle together services that your business may not want or need, and you certainly don’t want to pay for things you won’t use. Since VoIP only uses your Internet connection, it uses a service you already pay for, making it convenient and budget-friendly. You can add all of those additional features later on if you want them.

If your business is considering a new approach to communications, try VoIP from Excalibur Technology. We’ll work with you to find a solution that’s just right for your business. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Network Upgrade Project

Server Room Before and AfterCheck out the great work our Network Engineers did at this client location.  This great before and after picture that shows off our fine work!  Do you have an upcoming network upgrade?  Need a server closed tamed?  Want to make your infrastructure equipment more secure?  We can do that!  Call today and speak to one of our knowledgeable Technology Consultants and they will have a Certified Network Engineer at your doorstep in no time at all!  A call to 877-NET-KING is all that it takes!

4 Tools That Provide Your Employees With Greater Flexibility

Employees working on PCsFlexibility is an important part of the modern work environment, especially as technology has made it much easier to work anytime, anywhere. Employees understand that this flexibility exists in many industries, and they want to reap the benefits of a flexible work environment. However, it’s not that easy; there are quite a few pitfalls that can easily take a stab at your business’s productivity.

On the plus side, flexible work hours allow your team to flourish as people, rather than employees. Your employees no-doubt have families and personal interests of their own that they would like to devote time to. However, the biggest argument for workplace flexibility comes in the form of mobile technology becoming practically omnipresent in today’s environment. In the context of society, mobility is, more or less, a primary concern. Everyone carries a smartphone with them in order to stay up-to-date on email, and to receive important phone calls or to dial into a conference call.

Then there’s the problem of achieving a work-life balance. If an employee is constantly tethered to the office, even while at home, it can feel somewhat invasive to that employee’s domestic life, which can lead to dissatisfaction, and in some cases, disruption. Nobody likes to receive a phone call in the middle of the night, or at the dinner table, about something that can easily be handled the following morning.

Whether or not you want to implement a flexible workplace environment is ultimately up to you, but if you do choose to go all-in on this investment, you’ll need the proper technology solutions to ensure maximum communication and productivity.

  • Voice over Internet Protocol: A VoIP phone system uses your Internet connection to send your voice to the call’s recipient. It’s basically like a traditional phone system without the complex wiring. VoIP systems also come equipped with your standard phone line functions, like transferring, conference calling, etc, and some even have video conferencing technology.
  • Virtual Private Network: A VPN encrypts data that’s sent to and from your business’s infrastructure. They’re great for keeping sensitive data secure from hackers who would steal information while it’s in transit. The reason you’ll want this is because hackers may be lurking on public Wi-Fi connections, just waiting for someone like you to access the network.
  • Cloud Computing: Your business’s data and applications are available to those who are hooked up to your on-site network, but what about those who choose to work remotely? Cloud computing lets you host information and applications in an online environment, where anyone who has access to an Internet connection can utilize it.
  • Mobile Device Management: If your team is using their own devices to access your company’s sensitive information, you need to make sure that they comply with your BYOD policy. A mobile device management solution can be used to limit access to data on a per user and per device basis, as well as allowing you to remotely wipe devices that are potentially compromised.

If your business is ready and willing to invest in a flexible, modern workforce and workplace, Excalibur Technology can help. Our solutions are designed to give you maximum control over your data, while allowing your team to work anytime, anywhere. To learn more, give us a call at (877) NET – KING.

31 Models Of Netgear Router Allows Hackers Turn It Into Botnet

There is a serious security flaw going around on Netgear routers that allows a hacker to bypass the security on the router and take full administrative control of it.  If you have a Netgear router in your home or business, you need to potentially update the firmware on it to keep hackers out!  There are at least 31 different routers affected by this security lapse that affects up over 1 million devices in the world.  The full article can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Netgear Router Vulnerability to Hackers

If you own a Netgear router, please update it or call the security experts at Excalibur Technology at 877-NET-KING for advice and support.

Hollywood Is Captivated By Fictional Hackers, But Real Hackers Aren’t Entertaining

Hackers and HollywoodIt’s not an understatement to suggest that hackers are a hindrance to business. They take what doesn’t belong to them, and worse than that, they use that stolen information to make off with money, misrepresent individual actions, and ultimately, just cause a degree of added entropy that any business simply doesn’t need. Recently, with the hacker group Anonymous consistently in the news and dozens of corporate hacks resulting in millions of people’s personal information being compromised, hackers have been an increased part of the public consciousness.

On January 10, 2016, television producer Sam Esmail stood on the stage at The Beverly Hilton and accepted the award for Best Dramatic Television Series for the show he serves as showrunner on, “Mr. Robot”. The Hollywood foreign press had chosen the series for this award, despite the show’s non-traditional plot, which centers on an anti-social (and hopelessly schizophrenic) network administrator that spends his nights as a seemingly benevolent hacker. Earlier in the evening the show’s co-star, veteran actor Christian Slater, took home the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

With the success of “Mr. Robot”, and other high-profile films and shows that tell the stories of hackers, there has been a suggestion that the entertainment industry unwillingly romanticizes hacker culture (not that sitting alone in a dark room, having a bad haircut, and wearing giant black army boots are actions that people would normally emulate). Take 2015’s Blackhat, a drama directed by Michael Mann. The movie stars one of the more bankable stars in the world at present, Chris Hemsworth, as a federal inmate (convicted of hacking) that is given a furlough to help his college roommate (and Chinese cyber warfare officer) solve a series of high-profile hacking attacks that cause destruction and chaos. In the movie, Hemsworth plays the role of anti-hero; a character that would be a villain in society, and makes good by doing the very thing he has been incarcerated for.

The representation of hackers as the good guys, or the popular anti-hero, is something that Hollywood has embraced for some time. Hackers are most prominent in movies about hacking, obviously, but they also show up in heist movies, and any other movie in which the story has a computer system standing in the way of resolving their goals. If the villain of the story is a hacker or computer, rest assured that the man or woman coming to save the day is a hacker; one of the only types of characters that can overcome a rogue hacker or computing system.

In reality, however, hackers aren’t as interesting or benevolent. Many of them will break down the barriers guarding your client’s and employee’s most sensitive information if they think they can squeeze a buck out of it. That kind of dedicated opportunism, and, to a lesser extent, schadenfreude, make hackers a deplorable result of computer systems’ prevalence throughout the culture. In Hollywood’s defense, hacking makes for a pretty boring movie, but human oppression or destruction, themes that you’ll find in nearly every good hacker movie, aren’t.

There have been dozens of movies about hackers that have been produced over 30 years. Some of them, like “Tron” and “The Matrix,” are science-fiction films that as a design, play with the concept of reality, while movies like “War Games” and “Hackers” present hackers as cognizant wrong-doers, but again present the act of hacking as a means to a heroic end.

Some of the most noteworthy “hacker” movies include:

  • Tron (1982)
  • War Games (1983)
  • Sneakers (1992)
  • The Net (1995)
  • Hackers (1995)
  • The Matrix (1999)
  • Swordfish (2001)
  • Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
  • BlackHat (2015)

How many of these titles have you seen? Do you think that hackers have been fairly represented in film, or do you think Hollywood has glorified hacking? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section beneath the blog.

At Excalibur Technology, we don’t glorify hackers. We fight them with proactive monitoring and management to ensure that, if someone that doesn’t belong there does try to get into your network, we are there to ensure your network remains safe. For more information about the steps we can take to keep hackers out of your network, call us today at (877) NET – KING.

Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology